By Peroshni Govender
South African opposition parties on Monday accused President Jacob Zuma of a cavalier attitude to safe sex that is hurting the HIV and Aids campaign after news that a woman not one of his wives had given birth to his 20th child.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, said Zuma, 68, was sending the wrong message to South Africans, among the world's worst sufferers from HIV and Aids.
"There are some people who may argue that Jacob Zuma's sex life is a matter of private morality or 'culture', but this is not so. His personal behaviour has profound public consequences," DA leader Helen Zille said in a statement.
At least 5.7 million South Africans are infected with HIV and Aids kills an estimated 1 000 people a day.
The African Christian Democratic Party said Zuma was undermining the government's drive to persuade people to practise safe sex to combat HIV and Aids.
"His conduct undermines his own government's message on HIV, because they are talking about safe sex and the president is continuing without using condoms. He is undermining the message of his government," said ACDP leader Kenneth Meshoe.
The Congress of the People (COPE), another opposition party said Zuma could no longer use African cultural practices to justify his "promiscuity".
"Polygamy is not promiscuity and his behaviour is not justifiable under any circumstances, COPE said a statement.
Calling Zuma's conduct "irresponsible" the party said the public should demand he acts like a "president" and not a "gigolo".
A source close to Zuma told Reuters that the president, a traditionalist who practises polygamy, had acknowledged in a legal document being the father of a child with Sonono Khoza, 39.
Khoza, the daughter of Irvin Khoza who heads the local organising committee for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, gave birth to a girl in October last year.
"Zuma acknowledges that the child is his and accepted full responsibility," the source said. Sonono Khoza has undertaken not to speak to the media, the source added.
The presidency has said previously that Zuma has 19 children.
Zuma's spokesperson was not available for comment. - Reuters